Interop
Commentary
11/19/2009
05:27 PM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
Commentary
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Interop: Microsoft Exec Says 'Google Me'

A Microsoft executive speaking at Interop Thursday unwittingly highlighted the challenge his company faces in building brand recognition around its Bing search engine. The exec told audience members seeking his contact info to "Google me."

A Microsoft executive speaking at Interop Thursday unwittingly highlighted the challenge his company faces in building brand recognition around its Bing search engine. The exec told audience members seeking his contact info to "Google me."Yousef Khalidi, distinguished engineer for Microsoft's Azure cloud OS, had just wrapped up a panel discussion on cloud computing when he made the gaffe. Khalidi drew laughs when he quickly corrected himself and advised the audience to "Bing me" instead.

Google exec Don Dodge, who jumped to the search giant from Redmond just last week, was sitting two chairs down and couldn't resist a smirk.

While the ribbing was all good natured, the incident reveals how difficult it's going to be for Microsoft to compete against a brand that's established itself as a synonym for the function it serves. If even Microsoft executive's first instinct is to "Google" something, the company's got a tough road ahead.

Of course, long-term victory for Google isn't assured if it fails to continue to innovate and provide great customer service. Xerox also managed to become a verb in its industry, but ultimately lost ground to Canon following a series of setbacks and near-bankruptcy.

And IBM fell on hard times in the PC industry (to the point where it sold the business) despite the fact that many people referred to computers as "IBM PCs" whether they were made by Big Blue or not.

Microsoft also has some brand advantages of its own. Some of the more technically challenged among us (and, apparently, the EU) think Internet Explorer is the Internet, and that all word processing programs are Microsoft Word.

As for Khalidi, if he can't remember who he works for he might have to Google, er, Bing, "job opportunities."

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